About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Best food for birds in the winter

Meeting Birds' Changing Winter Needs
Studies show the average bird forages for food about five hours per day to meet their energy requirements. In severe weather bird feeders can be important.

As the seasons change, consider the following tips to meet your wintering backyard birds’ nutritional needs as well as attract some migrating visitors.

Bad Food
The biggest no, no in feeding birds is offering seed blends with milo, oats, groats, or other filler seeds that birds won't eat. They are going to need a lot of energy to survive our cold winter and when they stop at your feeder it should be filled with food that will help sustain them through the night.

Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU) sells the best and freshest seed year round formulated especially for the local mid-Michigan birds. It does not include cheap filler grains that decrease the price per pound of a blend of seeds but is left by our birds to grow weeds or rot on the ground. WBU blends actually end up costing less because there is no wasted seed and it attracts more of the birds that you want to watch.

Good Food
When it comes to wild bird food, there are lots of choices. For birds in Michigan studies indicate that Black-Oil Sunflower, Fine and Medium Sunflower Chips, Peanuts, White Proso Millet, Safflower, and Nyjer® Thistle are among the most preferred seed types.

Tidy Food
For the East Lansing Wild Birds Unlimited store, customers’ preference by far is WBU No-Mess Blend. Our unique No-Mess Blend features seeds that have had their shells removed so only the meat of the seed is left. No hulls on the seeds make for a tidier feeding area, since there's no debris on the ground to clean up. Pound for pound, our No-Mess Blend offers the best value because you do not pay for the shells. The birds eat everything happily.
Long lasting
Seed Cylinders are also a high-fat, quick-energy food source that is specially-designed to meet your birds' hearty appetites. The Wild Birds Unlimited popular no muss, no fuss Spiral Seed Cylinder Feeder holds cylinders of tightly packed seed held together with gelatin so there is no seed spray. The whole block is completely edible. And depending on bird activity in your yard, a 2lb cylinder packed with energy rich pecans, peanuts and sunflower seeds can last weeks and a 4.5lb cylinder can last months.

Bug eating birds like Suet
If you have never fed Suet, you have missed some great neighbors. Lots of migrating warblers will stop at suet feeder as well as common year-round birds like woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches and starlings. By adding Suet to your wild bird's menu, you will also attract wrens, jays, titmice, and the ever popular bluebird.

Best Suet
Not all suets are created equal. The first ingredient should always be rendered beef suet. Some people feed straight suet only. If you want to offer more protein the next ingredient should usually be peanuts or tree nuts. Never, never buy suet where milo, oats, wheat, processed grain by-products or artificial flavorings are in the ingredients. These filler ingredients are used to make a cheaper cake but the birds have to pick around and pick out all this filler to reach a little suet.

The Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing store's best seller is the peanut butter suet cake, which has only three ingredients: rendered beef fat, chopped peanuts and peanut butter. Again, no milo, no wheat, no corn, and no millet - no filler ingredients!

Why can’t birds drink snow for their water?
Birds can use snow and ice as a source of water but it expends precious caloric energy to convert it to water. If there is an available source of open water, birds can conserve their energy for heat and survival during cold winters. Besides helping birds digest food properly, water helps birds keep their feathers clean and in top condition for effective insulation.

You can use a heated bird bath or add a heater to your existing plastic, metal or stone bird bath to make some water available even on the coldest day and attract birds that may not visit feeders very often. Heated birdbaths do not create warm water, but just keep it from completely freezing.
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Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your tips on proper winter bird feeding!

pet bird products said...

Thanks for sharing such great ideas.I do have the cylinder one that you have shown but I don't have an open water source so I am going to add that too now.